An old musicianís trick in order to get his music played loud is beginning an album with a very soft piece of music. That happened to me when I put the debut album of British band Secret Green for the first time in my CD player. The opening track of To Wake The King is entitled Prelude-Sunrise. At first, you wonít hear anything but singing birds. Indeed, just like sunrise, but than Prelude-Avalon bursts loose and the music gets very loud. The tempo fastens by the rhythm of a strong drumbeat. After waking up you will hear some wonderful orchestral tunes and a beautiful melody played on the electric guitar. The music strongly reminded me of one band in particular: The Enid formed by Robert John Godfrey (keyboards) and Francis Lickerish (guitars) in the early seventies. They recorded a number of wonderful albums like In The Region Of The Summer Stars, Airie Faerie Nonsense and Six Pieces. You can describe their compositions as classical music performed by a rock band. Instead of using real strings and brass, The Enid used keyboards and guitar synthesizers, but with the same atmosphere as the great classical composers.
Founder member Francis Lickerish is finally back with his new band Secret Green. That explains the connection with The Enid I immediately heard. To Wake The King has a lot to offer. The use of several old percussion instruments, lutes, flutes and balalaikas give the music a medieval English folk character, a sound that evokes images of the days of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. The main theme on this album deals with Englandís good old days when everything was assumed better than nowadays. Many people are wishing for an inspiring leader who leads us into a better world. So, time to wake the king again. Sometimes you also get the impression that you are listening to a movie score dealing with King Arthur or Henry VIII.
Francis Lickerish is not the only one responsible for this album. He assembled a line-up that was able to create this beautiful piece of music. Hilary Palmer is an outstanding singer. Her voice often reminds me of Cathy Alexander (The Morrigan) and Annie Haslam (Renaissance). The drumming, mostly done by Matt Hodge, sounds like old Enid-drummer Dave Storey. You can hear fantastic drumming on Echoing Green. John Beedle is the extra guitarist in the band and former Enid buddy William Gilmour played together with Francis all keyboard parts, with the exception of ex-Enid member Robert John Godfrey. He gave the final piece NimuŽ an impressive ending on a church organ. Francis Lickerish spent a lot of time on this project over the last three years. However, the results are remarkable. Secret Green delivered a debut album of great quality. I think many prog heads will like this album that brings you back to the time when Guinevere, Morgan and Lancelot were well known in England.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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